Yesterday, 14 people were slaughtered at the hands of at least two gunmen who mowed down innocent people in San Bernardino for a still unknown agenda. It was yet another senseless tragedy in our nation, on the heels of several mass shootings that have left us numb.
So many of us were left to ask WHY. Why does this keep happening? Why isn’t something being done? How can we change this? We’re left feeling helpless, feeling like there’s nothing we can do. And so, those of us who pray, PRAY. We pray for the victims and their families. We pray for our nation. We pray for our leaders, and for answers. We pray that this war on ourselves will cease fire, that we’ll embrace peace, that we’ll live in harmony. And we pray for our children, fearful of the world we are handing them.
Our leaders are praying too, offering their thoughts and prayers with the family through posts on social media. And while their sentiments are likely sincere, they are also leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many who believe these leaders could be doing more.
This was heavily illustrated by the headline posted on the NY Daily News, stating “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.”
I can’t even begin to tell you how angry this headline makes me feel, which means this newspaper is doing their job. Media outlets are competing for our attention, and the best way to do that is to incite some sort of emotional response to get us to react. This newspaper doesn’t care about God’s part in this tragedy. They care about our reaction to the word GOD, and are hoping we will respond, negatively or positively, just as long as we are talking about THEM so that their traffic goes through the roof.
I guess I’m helping that along, now aren’t I?
Here’s the thing, though. They’re right. God isn’t fixing this. I mean, how can he when we’ve done such an awesome job of pushing him out of our lives?
God isn’t fixing this, but don’t mention him in public because you might offend those who don’t believe the way you do.
God isn’t fixing this, but keep him out of our schools.
God isn’t fixing this, but don’t tell me how to live my life.
God isn’t fixing this, but remove the word GOD from everything.
God isn’t fixing this, because we’re not fixing this.
Here’s the thing. God is not some convenient genie in a bottle. His job isn’t to grant our wishes or mend everything we screw up. We are also not his chess pieces. He doesn’t sit there, plotting our every single move. He doesn’t force our actions. He doesn’t even force us to follow him or his ways. He’s granted us FREE WILL, offering the gift of choosing how we will live our lives, as well as the freedom of living with the choices we make. Sometimes our choices are good. Sometimes they’re not. And hopefully we’ll learn from those choices and become wiser because of them.
Thing is, we live in a world where everybody gets to make choices in their lives. And sometimes those choices don’t just affect them, but the people around them. Sometimes they affect people on a much larger scale, even. This can be a good thing, like when people encourage others to do good through their own actions of kindness. But it can also be bad, like when someone picks up a gun and kills others for no other reason than to wield power and send fear through the nation and the world.
This is what happened yesterday, and in every other mass shooting we’ve experienced through terrifying news stories. And as we watch the details unfold, held captive by the images we see on the screens or read about in the papers, we feel helpless, filled with sorrow, and unsure what we can do.
And so, we pray.
The NY Daily News called the action of praying “meaningless platitudes.” I call it a good start. We should all be praying for our nation. We should be praying for our leaders. We should be praying for change. We should be praying for answers.
And then, we should listen.
Because God isn’t going to step in and fix this. But he will use us to make things right. If we all we do is pray for God to fix this, things will never change. But if we pray about how God can use us to change things, and then let him guide us, change will happen.
The NY Daily News may have used their headline to cause anger on both sides of the fence, particularly among those who just read the words “God isn’t fixing this,” and leave it at that. But I encourage you to see those words and let it inspire action.
God isn’t fixing this, because he believes YOU can.